Off grid in a storm

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waynefromnscanada
waynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
Well folks, with the big Nor-Easter that just came up the East Coast of the US and nailed us here in Atlantic Canada, power is out in many areas. And with reconnects estimated to take perhaps a week in some places, I find it extremely satisfying that while all around me people are without power, were it not for newscasts and phone calls, I wouldn't know! It's an awesome feeling not to be held hostage.:D:D
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  • DavidOH
    DavidOH Solar Expert Posts: 112 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    Awesome when you life does not change when the storm hits! :D8)

    Wayne's house, where the lights are still on. ;)
  • waynefromnscanada
    waynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    DavidOH wrote: »
    Awesome when you life does not change when the storm hits! :D8)

    Wayne's house, where the lights are still on. ;)

    Hahaha You nailed it :D:D
  • TnAndy
    TnAndy Solar Expert Posts: 249 ✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    We're grid tied with battery backup. One morning, the we woke up to no power, so I went to the garage and flipped the transfer switch over to solar/battery. The transition was so seamless, my wife went around setting the flashing clocks......I snickered and she said "Whhhhhat ? " ...........

    "You KNOW when the grid power comes back on, you're gonna have to do that again, right ? "
  • TheBackRoads
    TheBackRoads Solar Expert Posts: 274 ✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    I know the feeling Wayne, even tho I have a very small system, when the power goes out it feels great to still watch the tv and run some lights. I kind of want the power to go out for a day again:roll:

    Wayne, do you feel the need to conserve more when you hear power is out around you or do you go about your business as usual? Just curious :D
  • sub3marathonman
    sub3marathonman Solar Expert Posts: 300 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    DavidOH wrote: »
    Awesome when you life does not change when the storm hits! :D8)

    Wayne's house, where the lights are still on. ;)

    Oh, I thought he said, "Awesome when your wife does not change when the storm hits!" :D8)

    One of my main goals with the battery backup was to NEVER EVER run out of hot water.
  • waynefromnscanada
    waynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    Wayne, do you feel the need to conserve more when you hear power is out around you or do you go about your business as usual? Just curious :D

    Hahaha TOTALLY go about my business as usual, only with an added sense of great satisfaction! But also with a bit of dismay that others don't see the world, energy wise, as I do. I have all the electrical energy I need and then some, I use what I want, but don't waste. Yet all around me others, without a thought, are wasting many times more power as I use - - - then they sit back and holler about their electric bill being so high! It's beyond my understanding how they can be so blind!
  • waynefromnscanada
    waynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    Oh, I thought he said, "Awesome when your wife does not change when the storm hits!" :D8)

    One of my main goals with the battery backup was to NEVER EVER run out of hot water.

    Hahahaha But on a serious note, my hot water is solar heated, Tomorrow is November and not once since early spring, have I been without hot water! And with the forecast predicting sun now and then for the next wk, there's no end in sight. I just have to remember to drain the panel on cold nights. :p
    PS! But I just re-read your last sentence - - - battery backup providing your hot water - - - ????? Hahahaha
  • garlic
    garlic Solar Expert Posts: 43
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    I find it extremely satisfying that while all around me people are without power, were it not for newscasts and phone calls, I wouldn't know! It's an awesome feeling not to be held hostage.

    Being held hostage,that's it right there.Among all the things of being on the grid
    that increasingly go against the grain of self determination,power outages are the ones that make one feel most like a cheap date.

    I don't have a clue when the power goes out on the grid,unless it's clear enough
    to see town down in the valley 35 miles away.
    my hot water is solar heated, Tomorrow is November and not once since early spring, have I been without hot water!

    I have a batch heater with mirrors to focus more light on the tank,and a coil in my wood stove that uses thermosiphon to heat water in
    a 40 gallon tank,so it's rare that I don't have at least one tank full of hot water.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    It always surprises me the number of people in areas with frequent power-outages that do not have any sort of back-up power system - not even a generator. But they all still whine when the power is out. The cost of a small generator is well worth it against throwing out a freezer full of food, to say nothing of not having the heat or lights function just because.

    I'm also amused by the number of people who come on here looking for back-up power and list their emergency needs as "TV, Internet modem, router, computer ..." :roll: They don't mind sitting in the cold and dark as long as they're not "in the dark"! :p
  • waynefromnscanada
    waynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    I'm also amused by the number of people who come on here looking for back-up power and list their emergency needs as "TV, Internet modem, router, computer ..." :roll: They don't mind sitting in the cold and dark as long as they're not "in the dark"! :p

    Reminds me of how often I've heard news reports of emergency necessities being air-lifted to disaster areas around the world, and so often cigarettes were listed right in there with clean water and food! :confused::confused::grr
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    actually i won't say no on a tv as the tv can inform people of emergency circumstances around them and where one may go to get aid if need be, but so can a radio.;)

    i would say no to cigarettes being a necessary supply. somebody's priorities are pretty messed up if they are that essential to them.
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    niel wrote: »

    i would say no to cigarettes being a necessary supply. somebody's priorities are pretty messed up if they are that essential to them.
    Do you know any smokers? Some of the ones I know would choose tobacco over food, I believe.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    ggunn wrote: »
    Do you know any smokers? Some of the ones I know would choose tobacco over food, I believe.

    know any. i used to be one and my other half still is (cough) and has already chosen cigarettes over food before. that is beyond my comprehension that even as a former smoker that one would ever make such of a choice of cigarettes over food, clothing, housing, bills, etc as they were always first and priority with me.:confused:
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    niel wrote: »
    know any. i used to be one and my other half still is (cough) and has already chosen cigarettes over food before. that is beyond my comprehension that even as a former smoker that one would ever make such of a choice of cigarettes over food, clothing, housing, bills, etc as they were always first and priority with me.:confused:
    Some folks are more susceptible to tobacco addiction than others, as I am sure you know, and to the addict, his next fix is the most important thing in the world. I'm not saying that it's right that cigarettes would be considered essential, I'm just saying that I understand.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    ggunn,
    you don't have to be cautious as i'm not taking any offense. i know how addictive it is as i smoked for more than 30yrs and was up to 3 packs a day for many years. i got tired of spending as much on them as i was and even though i did not choose them over priority things, i think it was a sharing with some of those important things and it was also detrimental to my breathing so it was more of a health issue than a financial one. at the time i was roughly at $3/pack and was down to about a pack and a half to 2 packs a day before going cold turkey. i was using a hospital stay as the kickoff as you can't smoke in the hospital. i just didn't know at the time that would go to nearly a month in the hospital.
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    You are lucky they didn't add "Smoking Cessation Program" charges to your bill :D

    Anyway, be glad you are saving the $$ Now. I've got an aunt, who alternates between the cigarette on the back porch and the O2 tank in the living room !!
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    mike90045 wrote: »
    You are lucky they didn't add "Smoking Cessation Program" charges to your bill :D

    Anyway, be glad you are saving the $$ Now. I've got an aunt, who alternates between the cigarette on the back porch and the O2 tank in the living room !!

    i told them i did quit and they where still trying to put me into their program as it was so soon after i had quit and they didn't believe me that i succeeded. my last cigarette was aug. 29, 2005 and was at 5am. this was the day and about the time of new orleans' and all areas around there got smashed by hurricane katrina.

    i know that i should've quit long before i did. for a time i even went to little cigars because they were cheaper by the recommendation of both my mother (smoked 55 years) and my brother (not sure, but i believe 35 years and counting).:cry: my brother had a heart attack about 2 1/2 years ago and my mother died about 1 1/2 years ago of breast cancer. my father who also smoked had his 1st heart attack in '84 and he quit smoking that very same day. he had his 2nd one in '94 and it killed him 1 day before he was to retire. i'm still hounding my other half to quit, but she said she is entitled to a $5 a day bad habit as she is paying for them with her part time job. $5 x 365 = $1825 a year. she also does get days of higher than $5 for them as she smokes more some days. the price is certainly higher than indicated by money as her health and mine still, by her continued habit, are suffering for it.

    anyway, this is off of the beaten path for a solar forum, but i thought it worthwhile to share.
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    mike90045 wrote: »
    You are lucky they didn't add "Smoking Cessation Program" charges to your bill :D

    Anyway, be glad you are saving the $$ Now. I've got an aunt, who alternates between the cigarette on the back porch and the O2 tank in the living room !!
    My wife's mom died of lung cancer a few years ago, and she continued to smoke up until the bitter end. Her demise was proceeded by many years of emphysema and towing an O2 tank everywhere she went. She would smoke cigarettes with the O2 tube in her nose, despite the danger of that.

    For people to continue doing what they know is killing them right up to the point where it does kill them, they must be under the influence of a very malevolent force which has taken over control of what is left of their life. There are many far more innocuous vices which are discouraged by the threat of hard jail time. It makes no sense to me.

    I hate tobacco.
  • techntrek
    techntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    To pull this slightly back on-topic, I would consider a computer + internet connection a high priority. Much higher than TV or radio, which are limited in content to whatever is on at the time. Using a computer I can get the same info plus a billion more topics.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,471 admin
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    Unless you have dial-up Internet--Beware that cable and cell phone systems need generator/battery backup power too--And it is unclear how long those will keep going in an outage.

    The old land line telephone system has always relied on battery and generators+emergency fuel in the central office to keep going in a power outage (at least for a few days?).

    With high-speed Internet (of the various flavors, dsl, cable, cell phone, etc.), I do wonder how they perform in multi-day power outages.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_dave
    solar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,397 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    My cable company has a repeater about one block over and it is on a different substation. They had a substation issue last years and it was out about 12 hours but the cable Internet died at 4 hours, assume the batteries ran down.
  • firerescue712
    firerescue712 Solar Expert Posts: 95 ✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    solar_dave wrote: »
    My cable company has a repeater about one block over and it is on a different substation. They had a substation issue last years and it was out about 12 hours but the cable Internet died at 4 hours, assume the batteries ran down.

    My rural cable company has not have a battery backup. As soon as the electricity goes off, so does the internet. Back when Alltel was the cellular service, an Alltel modem sufficed. It was on a monthly charge basis, and could be used when needed. There was no monthly fee (unless used), and no contract. Now that Verizen has taken over...forget it. It is hard to be on-line 24/7 and not go over their limits. Also, their system will not work with my router, but Alltel's modem would plug and play. This is because of their sign in requirement.

    It is great for those that are prepared for the grid system failure. It is not if, but when, this happens. Nothing lasts forever. Being prepared is better than panicking when the inevitable comes about.
  • solar_dave
    solar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,397 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    The new way to get full time internet is via cell. Sprint, my carrier, offers unlimited access and phones as a hotspot for a fee. It works pretty darn good if you are in a good area of coverage. Down side it is not cheap. $29 a month for the hotspot feature + the unlimited plan is like $99 a month.
  • Gregmik
    Gregmik Registered Users Posts: 19
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    Re: Off grid in a storm
    solar_dave wrote: »
    The new way to get full time internet is via cell. Sprint, my carrier, offers unlimited access and phones as a hotspot for a fee. It works pretty darn good if you are in a good area of coverage. Down side it is not cheap. $29 a month for the hotspot feature + the unlimited plan is like $99 a month.

    PDAnet.... ;)

    And the unlimited plan is $79 if you do not call landlines that much.

    Greg
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    i don't consider the internet as all that important during a power outage as there are better things for me to worry about like the cause of the outage usually being bad weather locally. i could now run an extension to either of my pcs and router/modem from either inverter or generator to access it if need be just for me to inform the other mods of my circumstance, providing my isp is still operating. so far that hasn't been necessary to do from a long term outage as we haven't had any of the long term outages since winter before last. i've had plenty of short term ones of under 2 or 3 hours though.
  • waynefromnscanada
    waynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    I have wireless "high speed" that at the very best of times, can only be described as slow, and whenever heavy wet snow builds up on the antenna, I have to go out in the storm, find a very long stick, give the antenna a good WACK, then run back inside to see if I got the signal back. But if there's a power outage at the ISP's transmitter site, it's batteries go belly up in about 2 hours. The local cell tower batteries are much much better, they usually hold up for at least 4 hours before going dead. The result is that during a bad storm, just when we need it most, communications are but a memory and we have no idea what the hurricane is doing. Hahahahaha
  • SteveK
    SteveK Solar Expert Posts: 387 ✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    Yes it is a darned good feeling. Had lots of dinner guests and sent out many pots of coffee during this....inconvience"...lol
  • RandomJoe
    RandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    My cable connection dies at about 4 hours. I've occasionally wondered if I could offer to be backup power for my local node (which is in my neighbor's backyard) if that would help... ;) But there may be something else farther along that also runs out about then.

    I can tether my cell phone to one of my computers and get on that way as well, that's how I did it back during the ice storm that kicked off my RE addiction. Can't say how long the cell sites would stay up though, we haven't had that widespread of an outage yet. In the case of the ice storm, there were plenty of areas without power, but it was very patchwork. In my case there were lights at either end of the block! :roll:

    But for me keeping the computers going isn't necessarily about the net connection. I can happily while away the hours tinkering on the computer solo. Playing games, writing some code or a story, stuff like that. Those are my time-killers much like others use TV. I just can't stand commercials - or so-called "reality TV"! Yuk...

    Although I could also plug the HTPC setup into the inverter... Bit of a power hog though, HD projector putting a 12 foot picture on the living room wall, nice sound system, and plenty of movies on hand. I could just sit back and watch movies the whole time! :p
  • chevenstein
    chevenstein Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    I love the feeling, too! Additionally, I live on the top of a tall hill in a dense forest with soil that drains really well, so I don't flood, don't have wind issues (lots and lots of tall, mature trees), and of course don't have external utilities to worry about. Towns near me were badly disrupted by hurricane Irene, while the worst thing that happened for me was some water came in around the stove pipe for the stove (rain collar was messed up). From my house, at the base of 80+ foot tall trees, I could not even detect any wind. It was just an unusually rainy day.

    The only real issue I've encountered is impassible roads, most recently due to flooding from Irene. That's where Internet access is critical, as I can continue to work as long as I have it. I'm on Verizon wireless and have never known it to be down, though it does get slow sometimes.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Off grid in a storm

    randomjoe,
    i have seen the local cable company place generators at the base of every pole with pole mounted boost amplifiers before. they did this 2 winters ago and i'm amazed that nobody stole one of the generators that i am aware of. the cable was feeding to an area that still had power and there is almost something sinful about those things running while everyone is in the dark just so somebody down the line can still watch their so called reality tv and catch the news to tell them that so many areas are without power.

    i don't have cable as i went from dish to fios. dish jerks you around when your contract is up. we'll see if fios does this to us too when it runs out in about a year. i did try to get cable for the record, but they screwed up appointment dates and claimed they couldn't find my house so they never showed. after this i told them don't bother and then they showed up unannounced several days later.:roll: